Labour Leadership Election 2020

A tiny swing?

So Jess Phillips has penned an article for the Guardian/Observer on the lessons to learn from the election. It’s a thinly veiled launch of her leadership bid and to be honest there’s not that much there to disagree with, it’s all very generic. But one paragraph and one line in particular made me pause.

My constituents don’t mind that we might disagree – they appreciate above all else a straightforward approach. I can’t help but think that the fact that we saw only a tiny swing away from Labour in my seat was because of our ability to disagree well, with good humour and a shared vernacular.

Jess Phillips – The Guardian website 14th December 2019

That’s a data claim and one that if true would elevate Jess Phillips’ claim to support. After all, I voted for Tony Blair in 1994 mainly because of his success in increasing the membership of Sedgefield CLP. So is it true?

Screenshot from Wikipedia

Labour down 2.3% and Conservative up 10.0%, that’s a swing of 6.2% away from Labour to Conservative. Nationally the swing was 4.5% Labour to Conservative so 6.2% doesn’t seem too good. But then again the national swing was greater outside London, so maybe it’s good for Birmingham?

Swings (Conservative to Labour) for Birmingham constituencies and the percentage for Leave in the EU Referendum 2016. Own work.

So Birmingham Yardley was the second worst swing for Labour out of the ten Birmingham constituencies. But there is the Brexit factor here, the worst ones seem to have the highest Leave. So do they correlate and would that explain Yardley’s swing?

Swings (Conservative to Labour) for Birmingham constituencies and the percentage for Leave in the EU Referendum 2016. Own work.

Even on that basis, the swing was worse than you would expect for a 60% Leave constituency in Birmingham. There is a possible reason, John Hemmings, the previous Lib Dem MP for Yardley in 2005 to 2015 stood again in 2017 but didn’t in 2019. Some Conservatives who voted for him to stop Labour wouldn’t need to do that as the Conservatives are now second in the seat and that will have increased the swing to them.

But even giving Jess Phillips the benefit of all doubt, there’s no evidence that the swing could be described as a tiny swing and some evidence that Jess did worse than the average MP would have in the same situation.

Labour Leadership Election 2020

Early look at the odds

With Jeremy Corbyn seeking to step down in the ‘early part of next year’ here’s my brief thoughts on the odds currently circulating. At this point there’s been no declared candidates but John McDonnell has ruled himself out and suggested the next leader should be from the next generation naming three of them (Long-Bailey, Rayner and Burgon). Odds are the best prices available at time of writing, Buy means I think the current odds offer good value not that I think that candidate will win, Sell means the opposite and Hold is where I think the odds are about right.

Keir Starmer 10/3 Hold
Policies are more centrist than the average member and with hindsight blamed in some corners as having bounced Jeremy into a more Remain position than he was comfortable in. It would be fun to watch him dismantle Johnson at PMQs every week but Hague outclassing Blair didn’t actually help at election time. Clearly would be a capable Leader, though is he even more ‘metropolitan elite’ than Jeremy is. Keir was part of the ‘chicken coup’ of 2016 which may diminish his support within the membership.

Rebecca Long-Bailey 5/1 Sell
It may just be me but I’m not sold on why RLB should be the considered favoured choice of the ‘Corbynite elite’. Rebecca nominated Jeremy in 2015 and one of few not to nominate Owen Smith in 2016 so I assume that her politics are socialist but haven’t got an idea of what she believes in. Performed well enough in the ITV leaders debate but still think she needs some more experience, could be a good Shadow Chancellor.

Angela Rayner 7/1 Buy
Probably the candidate that is closest to my particular politics. Nominated Andy Burnham in 2015 which is where I started that particular election campaign before switching to Jeremy. Angela seems like the only potential candidate who really knows what working in low paid jobs is like. She could wind up Tories into making stupid personal attacks on her which will sound like attacks on their new voter base.

Jess Phillips 8/1 Sell
I do not know anyone in the party, even those significantly more centrist than me, who likes her. She’s a gobshite, spent more of Jeremy’s leadership bullying him than campaigning for the Labour Party and was part of the ‘chicken coup’. She doesn’t even have integrity, saying that she would resign from Labour and sit as an independent MP if Jeremy was re-elected Leader. He was and she didn’t. How any Labour party member could vote for someone who so regularly throws their toys out of the pram I cannot fathom.

Lisa Nandy 10/1 Sell
Owen Jones wanted her to stand for Leader in 2015 so Lisa has to have some good qualities but her behaviour in 2016 taints her in this contest. Stabbing Jeremy in the back (resigning and then being chair of Owen Smith’s campaign team) is not the way to win this electorate’s hearts and minds.

Yvette Cooper 16/1 Hold
It is not required for a candidate to be a Jeremy supporter to do well or even win this election. But you have to have had integrity and Yvette has never pretended to like the 2015-19 leadership. Instead she has performed well in her role as Chair of the Home Affairs select committee and her cross party work in trying to stop Brexit. On her talents 16/1 is way too generous but there’s two problems stopping me saying Buy; her constituency marginal status and her connection with the membership. Yvette is emblematic of the so-called ‘red wall’, despite having no connection with the local area, she was parachuted in and installed as Labour MP without any say from the local membership. She’s just suffered a 13% swing against her in Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, having already suffered a 2% swing against in 2017 leaving her with a 1,276 majority. In 2015 she only received 17% of the vote from a Labour membership more supportive of her. Can she really do better?

Final quick thoughts
Emily Thornberry 20/1 – is she really the right person to rebuild the red wall?
Clive Lewis 33/1 – possible but what has he been doing in the last three years?
John McDonnell 50/1 – already ruled himself out, will be 73 next election.
David Miliband 50/1 – Next!
Dawn Butler 50/1 – should be shorter priced, she’s been very loyal to Jeremy, would she get the same support in return?
Stephen Kinnock 66/1 – would rather have his dad back again.
Hilary Benn 66/1 – would rather have his dad as well.
David Lammy 66/1 – same problem as Emily Thornberry, seems like he would have no appeal outside the M25.
Dan Jarvis 66/1 – reckon he might consider running – the Daily Mail would still paint a decorated army major as a traitor to the country though.
Stella Creasy 100/1 – I rate her but think she should be back in the shadow cabinet first.
Richard Burgon 100/1 – Odds will shorten after John McDonnell’s semi-endorsement but one of very few politicians that make me wish that I was able to answer his questions on his behalf.